PHOTO GALLERY PAGE 4
MACGREGOR 26 IN GALE FORCE WINDS AND ROUGH SEAS
(WINDS 34 TO 47 MPH, 10' TO 18' WAVES)
California is noted for its mild weather. However, we occasionally get Santa Ana winds that blow up to 100 mph.
Since the Santa Anas blow from the deserts out to sea, they tend to die out at sea, and don't generate large waves.
In April of this year, we had an unusual condition. Very strong Northwesterly winds blew for 3 days, generating really large seas. On April 16th, the Coast Guard posted gale warnings, (signifying winds from 34 to 47 knots, with waves to 10').
We pulled a boat out of the Newport Boat Show and went sailing.
You see the results in the above photos.
We used the company's MacGregor 70, Anthem (see below), for a photo boat. The 70's crew included Roger MacGregor (the photographer) and Tony Medina (our Assembly Manager), whose photos appear below. The 70 was driven by Matt Clary, (our Purchasing Manager). Rest assured that we didn't have the huge pile of sails on Anthem that you see below.
The 26 was sailed by Mike Inmon, our Newport Beach dealer, and crewed by his son Jeff Inmon. (The ballast tank was full.)
The wind speed indicator on the 70 read a steady 37 MPH of true wind, with frequent gusts into the mid forties. The typical waves ran about 10 to 12 feet, with some really big ones (see the first photo, above), that looked to be about 16 to 17 feet. The crest of the big wave in the first photo was about 200 feet behind the 26 when the photo was taken.
We encounted the strongest winds and biggest waves about 8 miles off the coast.
It was rough.
The 26 was quite happy. The 26 crew seemed to get a lot less spray than we did on Anthem. The smaller boat rode up and over the steep wave faces and foaming crests, while the larger boat slammed through waves creating a lot more flying water.
This is one of those "don't try this at home" things. When the Coast Guard posts small craft, gale and storm warnings, and conditions get this rough, stay off of the ocean or lake.
While we don't recommend sailing in these extreme conditions, it is the best way there is for us to test our boats. If you do get caught in extreme conditions, it might be reassuring to know that the boat has been there and done that.
The photo boat, our MacGregor 70
Tony Medina Roger MacGregor
In these extreme winds, it is important to have a well balanced and deeply reefed sailplan. The foresail that you see in the photos is our normal genoa on a roller furler, with only a small amount of sail exposed.
If the boat wants to round up into the wind, unroll a bit more genoa, or let the mainsail out. This will move the center of pressure on the rig forward, and make is less likely to round up into the wind and waves.
If the boat wants to head away from the wind, reef in the genoa and tighten up the main. With the proper balance, the boat will track along fine with a lot less load on the rudders.
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